Harare – The Zimbabwe Football Association (ZIFA) suspended 67 players, including most of its national team, on Monday in the wake of a long-standing match-fixing investigation.
A ZIFA probe last year led to a number of Zimbabwe players admitting accepting money from an Asian betting syndicate to lose friendly matches on Far East trips between 2007 and 2009.
The ZIFA report said the money was handed out by agents of Singaporean Wilson Raj Perumal, who is currently in jail in Finland for fixing activities in that country.
In a statement on Monday, ZIFA chief executive Jonathan Mashingaidze:
“The ZIFA board has resolved that all players implicated in the match-fixing scandal must not be included in the national team matches from now onwards.”
He added they must be cleared by the association’s ethics committee, which is investigating the scandal, before they can play for the team again.
Former Zimbabwe captain Method Mwanjali and top internationals Daniel Vheremu, Benjamin Marere and Thomas Sweswe, along with a member of the coaching staff, Joey Antipas, all made statements admitting taking money.
The list of players who featured in the matches includes several key members of the current squad: Nyasha Mushekwi, Khama Billiat and Ovidy Karuru.
The decision to suspend the players was made during an emergency board meeting to review Zimbabwe’s failure to qualify for the African Cup of Nations, currently under way in Equatorial Guinea and Gabon. That failure raised suspicions among Zimbabwean fans.
“The sentiment in every Zimbabwean was that the team was failing to qualify for major tournaments since we were using players who had been tainted by this scandal,” Mashingaidze said.
“For now the coach has been instructed to call up only players who are clean and cannot be manipulated to throw away matches.”
Last September, ZIFA suspended three of its board members, pending further investigation, for their alleged involvement in the scandal. – Sapa-AP